The low cost model for Reality show means that no one on the show is union. So it is not a case of writers not being paid while the Reality show performers are receiving SAG (Screen Actor Guild) scale salaries. The Networks have found a way to keep the costs and salaries down on shows that are categorized as reality. This means they can be more profitable. Even though the writers do as much work as any in 'scripted' shows we are forced to work without a WGA contract.
Reality's quickly created celebrities come and go. Most of the time they end up back at their everyday jobs with no extra money in their pocket but a bit of TV face time fame. Some of these Stars De Jour parlay the experience into real riches or more permanent gigs while the show's writers who created them just continue on pay check to paycheck. With no WGA contract there is no pension contribution, Health Insurance or other benefits. There are no Royalties or residuals paid to writers and there is no recognition.
Recognition is important and in TV and film getting a 'credit' is important. It sounds unimportant but in the Industry the credit does put you in a position to apply to be a member of a Guild and has a major impact on how you are viewed and what you get paid.
Jennifer L. Pozner, the author of 'Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV,' didn't necessarily want to write a book about reality TV, but she felt like it was her duty.
"I wrote the book because I kept waiting for someone else to do it, and nobody was," said Pozner, the founder and executive director of Women In Media & News. "I kept waiting for a really critical conversation about what these shows are telling us, and I wasn't seeing that conversation happening."
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In many reality TV programs, camera shooting and footage editing give the viewer the impression that they are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities; this style of filming is often referred to as fly on the wall or factual television.
These shows are popular and Networks like TLC have made them a mainstay of their programming . Their lineup includes shows about multiple births : John and Kate plus 8 shows , 19 and counting. Little People and others that show disabled people. These shows are about people in extraordinary circumstances going through an everyday life. They are just people a bit different from us living the way we do.
When these shows run on too long they morph into something completely different. When the unknown players become celebrities because of their show they cease to be their own characters. They simply go 'off brand'. When an everyday housewife becomes a T V star- she stops being the very relatable character we originally were drawn too. When we are no longer endeared to the Reality star our relationship changes with them. Where we rooted them on- now we hope for them to fail. But we have so much time invested in them we can't stop watching.
Kelly Sallaway,Producer for Kellan Media is tasked with the care and feeding of the Kellan Blog.